17.08.2015 - 14:46

The Earth at its Limit: "Earth Overshoot Day" already on the 13th of August

This year’s “Earth Overshoot Day” was on August 13. It is also known as “Ecological Debt day” which means that humanity is now living beyond their means for the rest of the year. Today we are using the equivalent of 1.6 planets, but there is only one earth - so we are consuming more than the planet can renew in a year.
 

This shows that humanity now exhausts the resources of the coming generations. Every year we need more food, clothes or other renewable resources and produce more carbon dioxide than our earth can tolerate. Humanity has now spent its annual capital after only seven month and thirteen days; we are operating in “Overshoot”. The costs of this “Overshoot” are an accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, deforestation, droughts and biodiversity losses.

The “Earth Overshoot Day” was an idea of Andrew Simms (US think tank: New Economics Foundation) to show people that there is a trend of consuming more resources than our planet can regenerate in a year. Today the Global Footprint Network calculates this day by using information provided by the UN, individual researchers and other data on our climate. The aim of this campaign is to make people aware of the limited global resources. It calculates the number of days during which humanity can use earthly resources without “overshooting” their capital. The “Earth Overshoot Day” is calculated by the earth’s bio capacity (the resources the planet can renew in that year) divided by humanity’s ecological footprint of this year. This result multiplied by 365 (or 366) is the date. Therefore it is an estimate, not an exact date. This structure analysis only includes humanity’s consumption and not the needs of other species.

During the mid-1970s, humanity needed more than our planet could produce – dating the first “Earth Overshoot Day”. If this trend continues into the next decades, humanity will need two planets by 2030. Already by limiting our carbon emissions by 30%, we could move the earth overshoot day of 2030 from June to September. It could also reduce global warming to two degrees Celsius. The carbon emissions make up more than 50% of the world’s ecological footprint.
“Today, just about 1 – 1.5 billion people belong to the middle class, while 4.5 billion belong to the lower class or live at the poverty line.

If all of them would adapt the standards of the middle class and if we add the further 3 billion new born humans to this calculation, it would nearly takes 5 planets to live in balance with nature.“ (Franz Josef Radermacher)

Humanity’s demand of nature is enormous; we are using much more ecological resources and services than the earth can reproduce in one year. What will happen when this infinite consumption trend will never slow down in straining this finite planet?

References:
•    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_Debt_Day#External_links
•    http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/earth_overshoot_day/
•    http://www.overshootday.org/
•    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBHW3zlkY44
•    http://www.earthlaws.org.au/current-projects/ecological-limits/overshoot_day/